An Open Letter

An Open Letter

AYEESHA RASHID

Had my result been free of errors on the first day I would’ve made it to the merit list. Two examiners and one coordinator had miscalculated my marks.

I’m a student of Delhi Public School, Srinagar. My CBSE class XII results were declared on 22nd July, 2022. While the rest of you who heard about it as outsiders or even appeared for the exam probably forgot about this, I never really could.

That day I secured 485/500. Fundamentally speaking 97% isn’t really a bad score. But I’m the kind of student more concerned about the missing 15 marks. The 485 obtained had paled in comparison to the 15 being lost.

The efforts I had put in would account for more. I wasn’t satisfied. I applied for re-evaluation. It is a long drawn process. The initial verification charges Rs. 500 per subject. Application for photocopy of one checked answer sheet is Rs. 500 as well. The re-evaluation charges per question is Rs. 100. In two subjects I contested 12 questions paying a total amount of Rs 3200.

One month and four days after the declaration of results, I received the re-evaluation score. Entitled ‘Mistake Letter’ from RO CBSE, Chandigarh it informed me of an addition of 7 marks in Sociology and 3 in History.

A country obsessed with its exam culture that encourages competition to a point where it’s unhealthy. Two examiners and one coordinator had miscalculated my marks.

Being a student interested to pursue a degree in Liberal Arts, we exist at the very nucleus of this. To be ranked based on the 12th marks we score. Where competition is so cut-throat. A small variation of 0.2% makes the difference between life and death. Success and failure. I have now experienced this at a very personal level.

Before even starting high school, my dream college was St. Xavier’s (Autonomous), Mumbai. I had visited the campus when I was in the 8th grade. My father was working with an NGO that partnered with them for a college festival. I volunteered to help. Since then I’ve kept tabs. Looking out for cut-offs each year. Throughout 9th-12th grades everything I did was to lead me up here.

When my time came, I applied. The first merit list appeared on the 30th of July, 2022. That day I realized 97% wouldn’t take me anywhere. First cut off FYBA general list was 98.83%. I opened the website to check the date for 2nd merit list. Sat back for a moment and thought it’s best to distract myself into something less important till then. The trance ended on 4th August. Because the second cut off was 98.4%. I had never been so disappointed. It didn’t feel right. I did not want to let this go so easily. My parents advised I make a visit to the college.

I wasn’t willing to look back 10 years down the line and mourn the loss of what could’ve been. My flight was booked for 8th of August. I checked into an airbnb. The next day I made a phone call to the concerned authorities to seek an appointment. It got delayed. Some festivals and public holidays.

Meanwhile lectures had already started. I was getting restless. I met the VPs for both Science and Arts. Then I met the Treasurer. Got in touch with the Rector who was out of station. I created a correspondence. Received a letter of recommendation from the manager of Xavier’s Education Society. It took 5-6 visits to wade my way in. My legal guardian, a dear friend of my father and I both, Mrs. Priti Sanghvi, a woman of substance and grace, accompanied me. I can never thank her enough in this lifetime. After doing all this finally I secured a seat in Sociology and Anthropology. What I wanted was Literature and Psychology.

They said it was all merit based. Seats are limited, 30 to be exact. If I was willing to choose other subjects they’d grant a seat. I wanted Xavier’s more than I wanted my course of choice.

So I settled for whatever they had left. Read that again. At 97% I settled for leftovers. The 1-2% marks do matter that much after all. I started attending classes for Sociology. The infrastructure was a dream. I read the prospectus for my term. It was second to none.

In the library I went through college magazines from early 1900s to now. Impeccable record and archives. During my interview, Dr Annapurna, VP Arts, advised me to send an application for subject change. She said you have good grades. If there is a possibility, we will pitch you in. I did. One week after my admission, I got the mail. I secured a seat in Psych/Lit. The same day my re-evaluation letter also came in. 10 more marks.

Had my result been free of errors on the first day I would’ve made it to the merit list. This would all be easy. But I would never understand the worth of my aspirations. The best of the best go here. Over the years Xavier’s has created a name for itself. A top tier brand. To think that I deserved it all along, but dragged myself through mud to get a place. It taught me a valuable lesson. Feeling like you deserve what you desire is the best way to believe your desire is already yours.

Now there’s another problem I want to address which is more severe than result anomalies. By now you know I’m a student of Humanities. As much as I hate to admit this, we are looked down upon by STEM folk. They say all sorts of things. You don’t have to work as hard. Your subjects are easier. Maybe you should reconsider your majors. You’ll struggle to find jobs. You’ll barely make any money. I will preface this by saying that while I agree it’s easier to bluff your way through Humanities, it’s difficult to become a professional. It requires a much broader knowledge base, creative analysis and sharper writing skills. In medicine or engineering, the information is fairly objective so it’s hard to have grade inflation. Humanities students are often subjectively graded. Besides I know a lot of people who majored in Humanities that are making absolute bank. I also know STEM majors working in the bottom of the barrel tech support because they were unsure about networking or learning about their field. So at the end of the day, it’s all a matter of perspective. Every major is what you make of it. My only two cents to anyone seeking it, is to do what you want. Do it well and take advantage of opportunities. That’s more important than having a supposedly in-demand piece of paper.

Over 16 lakh students had appeared for CBSE Class XII this year. Around 92.7% students cleared the exam. According to reports, 33,000 students scored above 95% marks. This is a laborious process of engagement and it must be put on record too that CBSE puts in a tremendous effort to execute the entire exercise. So errors happen. It is however imperative that each and every question paper, answer sheet and declaration of result is vetted, verified and cross-checked to ensure 100% accuracy.

I feel privileged being able to write this. Right now all I could think to do is thank the people involved at every step. This result has lifted me from my lowest and should with all your good wishes keep me going.

The journey has just about started...

With insurmountable pleasure,

Ayeesha.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.

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